From payday loans to non-pornographic nudity: council reveals internet block list

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Just  a handful of council employees in Tayside have been disciplined for breaches of internet codes of conduct amid stringent rules governing what sites they can visit.

Fife Council has had to discipline seven employees since 2012 for breaching their code of conduct while Dundee City Council has had fewer that five incidents in the same period, all in 2015.

The local authority would not give an exact number because of date protection.

Angus and Perth and Kinross Councils said they have not had to discipline any staff for code of conduct breaches.

Responding to a Freedom of Information request, Dundee City Council revealed that staff are blocked from visiting a range of sites.

The list of 54 banned categories includes child abuse, pornography, piracy and copyright infringement, hacking, malware and gambling.

It also includes a host of other sites including payday loans, BBC iPlayer, iTunes and even “information and reference” and search engines.

Other banned sites include, non-pornographic nudity, hunting and sporting. and online auctions.

Some employees may be given access to certain sites depending on the requirements of their jobs.

Despite the severe restrictions, the local authority’s policy on the internet and email does allow some personal use.

The policy document states: “Use of internet and email is primarily for business purposes but limited personal use is allowed consistent with local management requirements.

“Personal use must not be carried out within working hours.

“Employees must not resister their council email address for personal business.”

Fife Council said their internet block list changes every day.

A spokesman said: “IT services have advised that websites blocking is automatic using speciality third party software which holds proprietary block lists, these change daily.”

Perth and Kinross Council said it operates a similar system.

A spokesman said: “The filtering technology used by the council has a list of sites and categories which is updated at least daily. In addition, the technology will make decisions on the fly when it encounters a website that has not been previously categorised.

“In general, the council blocks websites which are deemed to be harmful to its employees or to the network.”

Angus Council said its filtering policy is based on sites that fall under the scope of “Prevent” anti-terror legislation, sites that could breach Data Protection laws, sites which pose a threat to Angus Council’s “infrastructure or data” and pornographic sites.